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Poem by Alfred Edward Housman


Last Poems. 9. The Chestnut Casts His Flambeaux


The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
        Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
        Pass me the can, lad; theres an end of May.

Theres one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
        One season ruined of our little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
        Oh ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

We for a certainty are not the first
        Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
        Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

It is in truth iniquity on high
        To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
        Fare on our long fools-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
        My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
        We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
        To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
        Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
        Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
        Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.



Alfred Edward Housman


Alfred Edward Housman's other poems:
  1. More Poems. 9. When Green Buds Hang in the Elm Like Dust
  2. More Poems. 40. Farewell to a Name and a Number
  3. Additional Poems. 2. Oh Were He and I Together
  4. Additional Poems. 11a. They Shall Have Breath that Never Were
  5. More Poems. 37. I Did Not Lose My Heart in Summers Even


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